UNITED STATES –A U.S. Army soldier has been given the go-ahead to wear a beard as an expression of his Heathen faith, but not everyone in that community is on board. Leaders of some of the higher-profile Heathen organizations have questioned the sources, the messaging, and even the motivations of those who supported the bid. In a story published late last month, Army Times reporter Meghann Myers explained how the opportunity for this particular request only opened up in early 2017, when religious beards were approved as “a response to years of requests — and a lawsuit — from Sikh soldiers seeking to both serve and adhere to the tenets of their faith.” For Sikhs, the issue is that kesh, uncut hair, is a requirement of that religion. However, even the loosening of military beardlessness to accommodate members of that religion does require some cutting; facial hair can’t be allowed to grow more than two inches past the bottom of the chin.
TWH – The annual celebration of Veterans Day started out as Armistice Day in 1919 at the end of World War I. It was officially renamed Veterans Day in the United States in order to honor all veterans. Many countries still honor Nov. 11 as a day of remembrance, especially those that fought on the Allied side in World War I.
This is a special year for Circle Sanctuary, as they recognize the 10th anniversary of the Veterans Pentacle Quest. After a long struggle attempting to get the pentacle as an approved device for military headstones, Circle Sanctuary and Selena Fox teamed up with Americans United for Separation of Church and State to file a lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs. Assisting in the suit was Roberta Stewart, wife and widow of Sgt.
The Open Halls Project has announced that “the Department of Defense has requested, reviewed and accepted [its] Heathen Resource Guide for Chaplains.” For over seven years, the Open Halls Project, headed by Josh and Cat Heath, has been working diligently to have Asatru and Heathen added to the U.S. Army’s religious preference list. During that process, as Josh Heath explained, his working group was asked to “produce a document explaining the basics of Heathenry.” Heath said, “We produced a document for him modeled on the Army Chaplain’s Handbook excerpt for Wicca. This basic framework assisted us in developing information that was generally applicable to the largest amount of Heathens possible.”
The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. It is a time set aside in the United States to honor those who serve in the five branches of the Armed Forces. On that date in 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany during the First World War. After that, the day became known as Armistice Day and was unofficially observed. Then in 1938, it was declared a federal holiday specifically set aside to honor WWI veterans.
The journey to report on the Sacred Space/Between the Worlds conference was difficult. What would have taken four hours on the road on a clear day was seven through a late-winter snowstorm on the Eastern seaboard, driving forty miles an hour past at least a dozen vehicles which hadn’t fared very well in those conditions. Journey’s end, however, included welcomes from familiar faces, introductions to local luminaries, and an invitation to lunch with a group of Southern witches who simply wanted to show some hospitality. Those warm gestures led to this question: what role does hospitality play in your tradition? Those who were able to respond created a rich tapestry of perspectives. Byron Ballard, Mother Grove Goddess Temple:
I always cringe in interfaith circles when we try so hard to find That One Thing that we all do.